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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 19:52 GMT
Yeo urged to give up chairmanship
Shadow education secretary Tim Yeo
Tim Yeo has dismissed calls that he gives up the Univent chairmanship
Shadow Health Secretary Tim Yeo is being urged to give up his chairmanship of a company which runs care homes amid claims that the job gives rise to conflicts of interest.

The call came as the chief executive of the company, Univent, revealed it had profited from the Labour government's health policies.

Labour backbencher Kevin Brennan said it was "extraordinary" that Mr Yeo, MP for Suffolk South, attacked the government over health in the Commons, while making thousands of pounds from his 125,000 shares in Univent, which runs care homes for the elderly.

He urged Mr Yeo to follow the lead of Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin, who gave up his directorship of City firm NM Rothschild last month after being appointed to the Treasury role.

'Good for business'

Mr Yeo dismissed calls for him to give up the Univent chairmanship, pointing out he had complied with the parliamentary rules by disclosing his interests in the MPs' register.

Univent chief executive Alain Leong-Son revealed on Tuesday that government spending on health was "good for business".

"Labour has spent so much on public services it can only be good for us and our sector," he said.

The company's shares have risen in value by 28% since Chancellor Gordon Brown's April 2002 announcement of a 40bn increase in health spending.

Mr Yeo has protested in Parliament about "over-regulation" of nursing homes which he said had forced many to close.

But Mr Leong-Son said the estimated 70,000 reduction in bed numbers was good for Univent, which runs seven homes and a staffing agency at Weston-super-Mare in Somerset.

Code of Conduct

"Because of the cull of the sector, it is creating better opportunities for people like us," he said.

Mr Brennan said: "I cannot see how Mr Yeo can carry on his role with Univent whilst he is a front bench spokesperson for Her Majesty's Opposition, attempting to influence government policy in this sector.

"He should follow Oliver Letwin's lead and give up outside interests which impact on his brief."

Mr Brennan also said he would table an Early Day Motion in the Commons calling on Conservative leader Michael Howard to introduce a code of conduct to cover the outside interests of his shadow ministers.

Letwin quits his Rothschild role
04 Dec 03  |  Politics



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